Point of care testing to improve glycemic control

George Rust (National Center for Primary Care, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Morna Gailor (National Center for Primary Care, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Elvan Daniels (National Center for Primary Care, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Barbara McMillan‐Persaud (Southside Medical Center, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Harry Strothers (Department of Family Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Robert Mayberry (Clinical Research Center, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Publication date: 2 May 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to pilot‐test the feasibility and impact of protocol‐driven point‐of‐care HbA1c testing on levels of glycemic control and on rates of diabetic regimen intensification in an urban community health center serving low‐income patients.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper suggests a primary care process re‐design, using point of care finger‐stick HbA1c testing under a standing order protocol that provided test results to the provider at patient visit.

Findings

The paper finds that the protocol was well received by both nurses and physicians. HbA1c testing rates increased from 73.6 percent to 86.8 percent (p=0.40, n=106). For the 69 patients who had both pre‐ and post‐intervention results, HbA1c levels decreased significantly from 8.55 to 7.84 (p=0.004, n=69). At baseline, the health center as a system was relatively ineffective in responding to elevated HbA1c levels. An opportunity to intensify, i.e. a face‐to‐face visit with lab results available, occurred for only 68.6 percent of elevated HbA1c levels before the intervention, vs. 100 percent post‐intervention (p<0.001). Only 28.6 percent of patients with HbA1c levels >8.0 had their regimens intensified in the pre‐intervention phase, compared with 53.8 percent in the post‐intervention phase (p=0.03).

Research limitations/implications

This was a pilot‐study in one urban health center. Larger group‐randomized controlled trials are needed.

Practical implications

The health center's performance as a system, improved significantly as a way of intensifying diabetic regimens thereby achieving improved glycemic control.

Originality/value

This intervention is feasible, replicable and scalable and does not rely on changing physician behaviors to improve primary care diabetic outcomes.

Keywords

Citation

Rust, G., Gailor, M., Daniels, E., McMillan‐Persaud, B., Strothers, H. and Mayberry, R. (2008), "Point of care testing to improve glycemic control", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 325-335. https://doi.org/10.1108/09526860810868256

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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